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BMW Z3 3.0i Calypso Red 2002 - Flickr - The Car Spy (17).jpg
ProductionSeptember 1995–June 2002
AssemblyUnited States: Greer, South Carolina (Plant Spartanburg)
Body and chassis
ClassSports car (S)
Body style
LayoutFront-engine, rear-wheel drive
RelatedBMW 3 Series (E36)
Wheelbase2,446 mm (96.3 in)
Length4,025 mm (158.5 in)
Width1,692 mm (66.6 in)
Height1,293–1,306 mm (50.9–51.4 in)
Curb weight1,160–1,400 kg (2,557–3,086 lb)
PredecessorBMW Z1
SuccessorBMW Z4 (E85)

The BMW Z3 is a range of two-seater sports cars which was produced from 1995 to 2002. The body styles of the range are:

The Z3 was based on the E36 3 Series platform,[1] while using the rear semi-trailing arm suspension design of the older E30 3 Series. It is the first mass-produced Z Series car.

Z3M models were introduced in 1998 in roadster and coupé body styles and were powered by the S50, S52, or S54 straight-six engine depending on country and model year. The Z3M models came with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Production ended on June 28, 2002,[2] with the Z3 line replaced by the E85 Z4.

Development and launch[edit]

Development on the roadster began in 1991 and was led by Burkhard Göschel.[1][3] The exterior was designed by Joji Nagashima, being completed in mid-1992 at 39 months before production[4][5] and the design was frozen in 1993.[6] Design patents were filed on April 2, 1994 in Germany and on September 27, 1994 in the US.[7] The Z3 was introduced via video press release by BMW North America on June 12, 1995. Production began on September 20, 1995.[8]

Development on the coupé model was run by a group of BMW engineers outside of work in their own time.[9] The Z3 Coupé shares the same platform and parts with the roadster, but features a chassis-stiffening hatch area and is 2.7 times stiffer in comparison.[10][9] The Z3 Coupé was unveiled at the 1997 Frankfurt Motor Show.

The Z3 was the first BMW model to be solely manufactured outside of Germany. It was manufactured in Greer, South Carolina.[4]

Body styles[edit]

Roadster (E36/7)[edit]

Roadster models entered production in September 1995, powered by 4-cylinder engines on launch. 6-cylinder engines were later introduced in 1996.[11] A removable hardtop roof was available as an optional accessory.

Coupé (E36/8)[edit]

Coupé models entered production in January 1998.[12] The unusual side profile has been given nicknames such as "clown shoe" and "bread van" by critics.[13][14][15][16] In Germany, it has been referred to as a "turnschuh" (sports shoe).[17]

The coupé body style was only produced with six-cylinder engines (2.8, 3.0i, and M Coupé models).


The available transmissions are:[18]


The 4-cylinder models feature a single tailpipe, while 6-cylinder models have dual tailpipes, wider rear fenders (for pre-facelift models) and a revised front bumper. M models featured the same wider fenders as the 6 cylinder models but with unique front and rear bumpers, side mirrors and the M division's first use of a quad exhaust pipe arrangement.

The 1.8, 2.0, and 2.2i models were unavailable in the United States, though the U.S. was the only market to receive the 2.3 and 2.5 models

Model Years Engine Power Torque
1.8 1995–1998 M43B18
85 kW (114 hp)
at 5,500 rpm
168 N⋅m (124 lb⋅ft)
at 3,900 rpm
1999–2000 M43B19
87 kW (117 hp)
at 5,500 rpm
180 N⋅m (133 lb⋅ft)
at 3,900 rpm
1.9i 1995–1999 M44B19
103 kW (138 hp)
at 6,000 rpm
180 N⋅m (133 lb⋅ft)
at 4,300 rpm
2000–2002 M43B19
87 kW (117 hp)
at 5,500 rpm
180 N⋅m (133 lb⋅ft)
at 3,900 rpm
2.0 1999–2000 M52TUB20
110 kW (148 hp)
at 5,900 rpm
190 N⋅m (140 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
2.2i 2000–2002 M54B22
125 kW (168 hp)
at 6,100 rpm
210 N⋅m (155 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
2.3 1998–2000 M52TUB25
127 kW (170 hp)
at 5,500 rpm
245 N⋅m (181 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
2.5i 2000–2002 M54B25
137 kW (184 hp)
at 6,000 rpm
237 N⋅m (175 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
2.8 1997–1998 M52B28
141 kW (189 hp)
at 5,300 rpm
275 N⋅m (203 lb⋅ft)
at 3,950 rpm
1999–2000 M52TUB28
142 kW (190 hp)
at 5,300 rpm
280 N⋅m (207 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
3.0i 2000–2002 M54B30
170 kW (228 hp)
at 5,900 rpm
300 N⋅m (221 lb⋅ft)
at 3,500 rpm
1997–2000 S50B32
236 kW (316 hp)
at 7,400 rpm
350 N⋅m (258 lb⋅ft)
at 3,250 rpm
2001–2002 S54B32
239 kW (321 hp)
at 7,400 rpm
350 N⋅m (258 lb⋅ft)
at 4,900 rpm
1997–2000 S52B32
179 kW (240 hp)
at 6,000 rpm
305 N⋅m (225 lb⋅ft)
at 4,250 rpm
2001–2002 S54B32
235 kW (315 hp)
at 7,400 rpm
340 N⋅m (251 lb⋅ft)
at 4,900 rpm


The Z3M versions were introduced in 1997 in the roadster (M Roadster) and coupé (M Coupé) body styles. European models were initially powered by the S50 inline-six engine, while North American models were powered by the less powerful S52 inline-six engine. In 2001 both the European and North American models switched to the new S54 engine. The Z3M was only available with a 5-speed manual transmission.

Compared to the standard Z3, M models featured a limited slip differential, a wider rear track,[15] and larger brakes (that are shared with the E36 M3). Z3M models were available in M-specific colors, they feature more aerodynamic wing-mirrors as well as redesigned front and rear bumpers and bespoke "Roadstar" Style 40 wheels, revised side gill and quad exhausts. The interior can also be differentiated by the voltmeter, clock and oil temperature gauges in the center console, leather-wrapped center console and door pulls, as well as unique M-styled seats and interior color options.

Unlike the rest of the Z3 range, the Z3M did not receive cosmetic changes during the facelift in 2000.

Special Models[edit]

James Bond Edition[edit]

007 Bond Edition

To tie in with the appearance in the GoldenEye film, BMW released a "James Bond Edition" Z3 for sale through the Neiman Marcus Christmas catalogue. The James Bond Edition was sold in 1996 for US$35,000 (equivalent to $57,754 in 2020). BMW and Neiman Marcus had originally set a 20-unit sales goal, but this was later increased to 100 units after receiving a high level of interest from customers.

The James Bond Edition was based on the Z3 1.9i and included a 007 dash plaque, 007 Bond floor mats, unique wheels, and chrome exterior trim. The colour scheme was an "Atlantic blue" exterior with beige leather interior, matching the Z3 which appeared in GoldenEye.[19]

V12 prototype[edit]

In 1999, the BMW M division produced a single prototype Z3 powered by the 5.4 L M73 V12 engine,[20][21] in order to test the space efficiency of the engine bay.[22] It is based on the Z3 roadster, has 17 inch wheels with 225/45 tires up front and 245/40 at the rear, and is painted in a shade of orange. The V12 was rated at 240 kW (322 hp) at 5,000 rpm and 490 N⋅m (361 lb⋅ft) of torque at 3,900 rpm, and power is sent through a 6-speed manual transmission. The concept is much heavier than the standard Z3 at 1,400 kg (3,086 lb), giving it 70/30 weight distribution. The concept was only shown once, which was in 1999 to the motoring magazine Autozeitung. Their tests revealed a 0–100 km/h (0–62 mph) time of 5.5 seconds, a standing kilometer (0.62 miles) in 24.4 seconds, and a top speed of 263 km/h (163 mph).[23]

Z3M Coupé Safety Car[edit]

A safety car variant of the Z3M Coupé was produced by the BMW M division for MotoGP and used in the 2000 season.[24]

Model year changes[edit]


  • M Roadster and M Coupé models introduced to the public.
  • BMW Individual introduced to Z3 models.[25]


1999 facelift[edit]

In April 1999, the facelift (LCI) versions of the Z3 began production.[31] Major changes include:

  • The Z3 2.0 model was replaced by the Z3 2.2i and the Z3 2.8 model was replaced by the Z3 3.0i, as the inline-six engines were upgraded from the M52 to the M54 (the addition of the "i" to the model names is not significant, since all engines use electronic fuel injection). In the United States, the Z3 2.3 model was replaced by the Z3 2.5.
  • Exterior design changes including redesigned chrome ring headlights and L-shaped taillights, wider rear track by 2.5 in (64mm) (now the same across 4 and 6-cylinder models), model designation badges, finger indent for trunk release button, integrated third brake light (with silver lights on 2.8 and 3.0i models), chrome exhaust tips, and new wheel designs.[32][33][34][35] The Z3M models did not receive these exterior changes.
  • Interior design changes including redesigned centre console buttons with a clock in the middle and a new three-spoke steering wheel design.[36]
  • Electronic stability control upgraded from ASC to new DSC system.[37]
  • New three-layer insulation convertible roof with headlining.[36]
  • Dual-stage side airbags introduced.[38]


  • DSC now integrated with Dynamic Brake Control (DBC) and Automatic Differential Brake (ADB) functions.[39]


  • Z3M models switched from the BMW S50 (Euro spec) and BMW S52 (U.S. spec) inline-six engines to the BMW S54 inline-six engine.

Production volumes[edit]

One source provides the data below for production figures.[40] However, there are other sources which provide conflicting information,[40] so actual figures are not certain.

Model Total Roadster Coupé
Z3 1.8 56,091 56,091 -
Z3 1.9i 77,965 77,965
Z3 2.0 14,616 14,616
Z3 2.2i 21,052 21,052
Z3 2.3 22,282 22,282
Z3 2.5 6,813 6,813
Z3 2.8 58,278 50,607 7,671
Z3 3.0i 18,378 14,525 3,853
Z3M 21,613 15,322 6,291
Total: 297,088 279,273 17,815


The Z3 appeared briefly in the James Bond movie GoldenEye, in a scene where Bond is driving in Cuba. Bond would eventually trade the car in exchange for Jack Wade's plane. [41] The Z3 is one of few non-British production cars to be driven by James Bond in a movie, and the first of three James Bond films featuring a BMW car due to a three film licensing deal between BMW and the James Bond franchise that started in Goldeneye and ended in The World Is Not Enough.[42] The Z3 in GoldenEye features stinger missiles hidden behind the headlights, an emergency parachute braking system and a radar scanner in the form of a LCD screen in the dashboard.[43] It is also noted during the briefing scene, that the car contains a passenger ejector seat and a self-destruct system. Though it is mentioned that the vehicle has gadgets, they aren't used in the film unfortunately. [44] It is one of the few vehicles in the Q-Branch that was not destroyed in the field. The vehicle wasn't well received by purists and people of the car world, stating that it should have had a lot of screentime after boasting about the weapons and that all the publicity of the car was for nothing, however this was fixed with the BMW 750il in the next film, Tomorrow Never Dies.

Two blue prototypes were provided in January 1995 for filming at the Leavesden Aerodrome.[45][46] The agreement between BMW and Eon Productions was for cross-promotion of the car and the film, and no money changed hands.[47]

Sales of the Z3 spiked as the film sat at number one at the box office. In the 1996 production run, more than 15,000 roadsters were sold out by the time the car was introduced.[41]



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